August is Fair Month in Ventura County and the importance of the county fair has never been more meaningful than this year because along with other summertime events, it has been cancelled. “The Fair” has always been a place to bring community together, bring economy into the area and offer city dwellers a chance to see crops and livestock up close and the bigger the better!
Never was this more exciting than in the mid 1920’s when prize bull Prince Aaggie wowed spectators at the Ventura County Fair. Prince Aaggie was California’s undefeated champion. Born Oct. 20, 1920, at Berylwood Stock Farm in Hueneme and registered to A.W. Morris & Sons Corporation, he was a legend in his own time.
In April 1925, intent on developing his Aliso Canyon ranch into one of the finest bovine breeding farms in the United States, August Rübel paid the highest price on record — $110,000 — for the 4-year-old Holstein bull. At the same time, he purchased the entire Berylwood herd- 179 additional head and gave his outfit the name the “Billiwhack Dairy.” The herd’s manager, J.W. Snodgrass, came along with it. The dairy was located at 2275 Aliso Canyon Road, just outside of Santa Paula. Rubel also purchased Rancho Camulos just east of Piru that same year.
Prince Aaggie’s untimely demise in June of 1926 sent shockwaves throughout the livestock community. The bull was uninsured at the time of his death and Rubel had just spent $1 million on new buildings, a modern refrigeration plant, refrigerated delivery trucks and his livestock. Devastated, Rubel sold off the herd and shut down the dairy farm. The property was finally sold in 1928 to Ben Fratkin’s Valley Dairy Co. out of Los Angeles and it continued to operate under the Billiwhack name until the 1940’s.
Considerably later, the legend of the Billiwhack Monster was born. Santa Paulans claimed that a humanoid half-man, half-goat creature terrorized the community from the vicinity of the old dairy. But we’ll save that story for another post!
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